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John DiStaso's Granite Status: UPDATED: Chris Sununu won't run for Gov, US House or US Senate in '14; plans to seek reelection to Executive Council

By John DiStaso
Senior Political Reporter

July 18. 2013 2:10PM

NO HIGHER OFFICE BID FOR CHRIS IN '14. Republican Executive Councilor Chris Sununu said Thursday he will not run for governor, the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Sununu, 38, the son of a former governor and younger brother of a former senator, said he has "full intentions" of running for a third term representing District 3 on the Executive Council.

Chris Sununu is the second Sununu this year to take himself out of the running for high office in 2014. Earlier this year, former Sen. John E. Sununu announced he will not run try to unseat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is seeking reelection after unseating him in 2008.

Chris Sununu, a Newfields resident, cited family considerations -- he has young family, including a six-month-old -- and a growing role as general manager of the Waterville Valley ski resort as the major factors in his decision.

"I don't want to be dragging my heels on this," he told the Granite Status. "There are a lot of very good candidates out there that are considering getting into these races and I don't want to hold them back waiting to see what I may or may not do"

In an interview following his announcement, Sununu said that while he looked at all three top offices, he focused mostly on governor.

"I gave all three seats very strong consideration," he said. "I really love New Hampshire and I think my skill set as an executive was always really geared toward a potential run at the governor's seat. That's something I had been focusing on a little more.

"But when you add everything in, from family to business, to timing, to my age, I'd like to think I have plenty of time on this earth to run for governor," he said.

Sununu said that in addition to his young family, he has taken over a "direct role" as general manager at Waterville Valley.

"It's growing. We're doing great, but it's a hands-on business. I have more than 1,000 employees that rely on me and my team to make things really work.

"I'm 38-years-old, I don't feel the need to have to rush into bigger and more grandiose political endeavors," said Sununu. "And I absolutely love working on the Executive Council.

"In a state like New Hampshire, you can really bring about a lot of good changes for the benefit of the state at that level, and I have a great time doing it," Sununu said.

"It's flattering that I've gotten so much support," he said, "but at the end of the day, there is a lot of time. I'm going to be out there working hard for the other candidates."

He said he will be particularly focused on trying to return the Executive Council to GOP control. Currently, he is one of two Republicans on the five-member council, in addition to veteran Raymond Burton.

"I'm working on candidate recruitment and I'll continue to do so," he said.

Sununu's exit from the 2014 gubernatorial scene leaves a vacuum at this early stage when it comes to Republicans who may try to unseat Gov. Maggie Hassan next year.

Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta and state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a former U.S. House member, are still considering their options, but are believed to be looking more closely at bids for either the U.S. Senate or the 1st District U.S. House seat, held now by Carol Shea-Porter, rather than governor.

Republican former state Sen. Jim Rubens is still exploring a bid for the U.S. Senate.

Veteran Republican strategist Michael Dennehy of Concord called Sununu "a rising star in the GOP," adding, "I am sorry to see him take a pass on running for office, but I remain optimistic about the prospect for the GOP in 2014, especially given the sad affairs in Washington where scandal upon scandal has taken center stage and caused total gridlock."

State Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said, "New Hampshire Republicans are fleeing the NHGOP's 2014 ticket because of the strength of Democrats up and down the ballot and also because the Republican agenda and platform is about as popular as a root canal right now.

"Republicans have no new ideas and no agenda to offer New Hampshire," charged Kirstein. "At this point the best case scenario for New Hampshire Republicans is a slate of failed Tea Party candidates who voters have already rejected."

Here is Sununu's prepared statement:

"After careful consideration I've decided that a run for higher office in 2014 is not best for me or my family at this time.

"I have a young family, a growing business at Waterville Valley Resort, and I still really love serving the people of New Hampshire on the Executive Council. There are a number of great Republican candidates in New Hampshire who I know can get this state an country moving again, and can regain the confidence and trust of voters that has been lost by liberals here and in Washington."

IN THE 1ST DISTRICT. With Sununu taking himself out of contention for the 1st District U.S. House seat (as well as governor and the U.S. Senate) the door is open for former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta to try to regain the seat from current U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who defeated him in 2012.

A new poll commissioned by the National Republican Congressional Committee indicates that he would be a strong challenger.

In fact, the NRCC poll of 403 1st District voters taken July 10-11 has Guinta ahead, 48 to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided and a margin of error of 4.88 percent.

The poll, conducted by the Harper firm, is a GOP poll. And it over-samples Republicans, with 40 percent of those poll identifying themselves as Republican, 31 percent as Democrats and 29 percent as independent.

But we've learned from the NRCC that the percentages were not randomly arrived at and were based on a turnout model derived from midterm election history in the 1st District.

In 2010, which was a Republican year, the turnout was nearly 41.8 percent Republican 28.9 percent Democratic and 29.3 percent independent, the NRCC pointed out.

In the 2006 midterm, the NRCC said, the 1st District turnout was 41.2 percent Republican, 33.3 percent Democratic and 25.5 percent independent.

The poll shows Shea-Porter with a 40 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable rating, while Guinta had a favorable rating 37 percent and an unfavorable rating of 26 percent.

Meanwhile, 41 percent approve, and 41 percent disapprove, of the way Shea-Porter is handling her job in the U.S. House.

Reacting to the NRCC poll, state Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley posted on Twitter: "When has CSP ever polled ahead? She wins votes but loses polls, I'll take votes anytime."

The poll comes as MSNBC released a list report on second quarter fund-raising for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Patriots" and "Frontline" Democratic House members -- those incumbent considered potentially vulnerable.

Among those 37 Democrats, Shea-Porter was last in fund-raising for the quarter, with $103,973, more than $100,000 behind the second-lowest Democrat.

Shea-Porter, however has never been known for her fund-raising prowess, yet she has won election to the seat three times.

(For earlier Granite Status reports, click on "Granite Status" above.)

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